Ford Motor Company has become amazingly adept at turning mid-cycle vehicle updates into major exercises in overachievement. The latest candidate to benefit from this enviable skill is the 2011 Ford Edge. Like its platform-sharing cousin, the smartly-recast-for-2011 Lincoln MKX, this five-passenger crossover rolls into the coming model year with a new look and loads more amenities plus an impressive array of new powertrains -- including the first North American application of FoMoCo's EcoBoost technology on a four-cylinder engine.

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Charged with giving it a more expressive appearance, the Edge styling team devised a fairly extensive revision, concentrating primarily on the front clip. A bolder grille and fascia, raised and recontoured hood, new headlamp treatment and vertically oriented LED running lamps add a clear measure of visual presence, which gets duly complemented out back by more elegant taillamps and four-inch bright-finish exhaust tips. The wheels also were restyled and now range from 17-inch alloys on the SE to class-leading 22-inchers on the performance-oriented Sport model. Story continues beneath the video.

The Edge's even more comprehensive interior redo offers slightly different appearance and accent materials for each of its four (SE/SEL/Limited/Sport) trim levels, but all share a common -- and more sophisticated character. It starts with more engaging color and texture combinations, better fits and finishes and an increase in the quantity of soft-touch surfaces that combine to bid occupants a warmer welcome. Numerous sound-attenuating enhancements -- from acoustic glass and headliner materials to better door seals and underbody shields -- make this a far quieter realm as well.

Beyond its new multi-tiered "waterfall" dash that ties tastefully into its equally new flow-through console to add a further upscale flourish, this convivial crossover boasts one more feature of particular note: the first Ford fitment of the new MyFord (SE/SEL) and MyFord Touch (Limited/Sport) driver-connect system. Powered by the latest generation of Ford's SYNC system, this technology represents a new, more intuitive approach that simplifies access and control of every key functional and infotainment system in the vehicle plus a whole lot more.

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While additional style, comfort and convenience are critical elements in this new Edge formula, Ford also stepped up its game big time in the powertrain and chassis dynamics arenas. The 2011 Ford Edge will offer three different engine choices, all utilizing Ford's new Ti-VCT (Twin independent Variable Camshaft Timing) technology. The base 3.5-liter V6 makes 285 horsepower -- 20 more than its 2010 counterpart and 253 lb.-ft. of torque while the new 3.7-liter V6 in the Sport boosts those figures to a class-leading 305 and 280, respectively. Both drink regular unleaded. No word on what the late-arriving 2.0-liter EcoBoost four will deliver on either count; but Ford's official claim is that it will offer the performance "feel" of a six, with at least 15-percent better fuel economy than the outgoing 3.5-liter V6 used in the current 2010 Edge.

To ensure best use of that extra motivation, the Edge chassis team tweaked the springs, shocks and sway bars to tighten up the handling and reduce roll without harming ride compliance. The steering and brakes also got revamped to provide a more involving and confident feel and the new wheels feature wider offsets to open up the track. But ever drivers with a slightly less enthusiastic demeanor will be able to appreciate several new standard electronic aids beyond the conventional stability/traction controls, including Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control and Hydraulic Brake Assist. The 2011 Ford Edge also will offer a segment-first Adaptive Cruise Control and a Collision Warning with Brake Support that can help the Edge stop more quickly when the system detects an imminent collision.

Ford has yet to release any pricing info, but it appears the 2011 Ford Edge is destined to be an even more formidable competitor against foes like the Chevy Equinox, Mazda CX-7, Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander.

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